If you have found yourself wondering what the heck was happening to iTunes over the years, you’re not alone. Once the most stable and streamlined music player, Apple began making the music player (once designed solely for the first generations of iPod) more and more integral to every aspect of the Apple, Mac, and iOS universe.
Apple has been keeping its features exclusive for forever now, from the Apple Watch to the Apple Pencil, and even their emojis are meant to be exclusive to Apple users. But barriers are slowly being broken, and that includes iTunes. It’s no longer the best and only way to listen to music and do other stuff on your Apple device.
It’s not what it used to be
And people have been saying it for a long time. In fact, Wired has been saying it since 2008: “iTunes sucks. There, we said it. Apple’s once very handy jukebox and music library manager has morphed into an unusable piece of crap that’s not even an app anymore, it’s just a kiosk for the iTunes Store.”
If your whole life you’ve been a part of the iTunes ecosystem, it can be difficult to fully decouple yourself from the tendrils that are iTunes music. To sync your iPhone or tablet, to import music to the native iOS app, or to buy media content (outside of the app store), the iTunes store and iTunes music app may still be a part of your regular routine.
Podcast junkies are happy to have their own favorite audio pastime freed from the constraints of the increasingly-convoluted iTunes process. Once a native part of iTunes, podcasts (while still manageable through iTunes) can be listened to and downloaded through the new native Podcasts app on all iPods, iPhones, and tablet devices wholly apart from iTunes. The change has been so popular for iPhone and iPad users, in fact, that opinion pieces have been written practically begging for an iTunes-free way to listen to podcasts on Mac, and not just separate the two on mobile.
There are a number of streaming music apps and iTunes is not the only music manager, so to avoid iTunes is not altogether impossible, even as a music junkie. You have Spotify, Deezer, and even Amazon Prime Music.
And now, with the advent of Apple Music (a music sampling and purchasing service through the music app on your Apple devices) further separating your music from your iTunes account, one is left to wonder, what is the purpose of iTunes at this point?
Will iTunes soon be obsolete?
With music being the original and defining purpose of iTunes—which everything else is separating from—is the iTunes store even a medium Apple wants to have longevity? Or are they slowly weaning us off what we’re used to with more and more peripheral app purchasing options?
Only time will tell if iTunes is here to stay, but if the current trend of Apple and the mounting distaste for the medium continue, we might see a further segmented Apple online with iTunes being a distant memory of a buggy past.